The Daily Bork

January 26, 2005

Party for Bush in the shadow of war

For the first installment we take a look at Göteborgs Posten (GP), a large daily in the west of Sweden. The article is by Britt-Marie Mattsson, who is the regular "US correspondent" for the paper. After reading a couple of her articles, particularly during the 2004 US elections, one could almost mistake her for a Democratic party PR person. Here is an article entitled Fest för Bush i krigets skugga, or Party for Bush in the shadow of war. Not reproduced in full.

Fyrtio miljoner dollar kostar kalaset när Bush installeras. Konserter och fyrverkerier är en del, parader och baler en annan. Större delen av arrangemangen är betalda av företag. Men kritikerna påpekar att även om det inte i huvudsak är skattebetalarna som får stå för fiolerna så är det till sist de som får betala på ett eller annat sätt ändå. Företagen förväntar sig att Bush "betalar tillbaka" med en politik som gynnar bolagen och inte nödvändigtvis medelamerikanerna.

Bush's inauguration will cost $US40 million. Concerts and fireworks are a part, parades and balls another. The majority of the arrangements are paid for by businesses. But critics point out that even if in the main it isn't the taxpayer who pays for the violins, it is them in the end who pay one way or another. The companies expect that Bush will "pay back" with politics that favour business and not necessarily middle Americans.

The fact that, in real terms, Clinton's second inauguration cost 25% more is not mentioned, nor the fact that the price tag is average for recent times. Of course in the end the cost will be borne by taxpayers anyway because Bush will have policies that favour business and not the middle class, possibly, maybe, well we don't really know but he must be up to something with this unprecedented party.

Att George W Bush håller en storstilad installation kritiseras främst av skälet att USA befinner sig i krig i Irak. Amerikanska soldater dör varje dag och fler är på väg att sändas iväg på oklara uppdrag. När Franklin D Roosevelt installerades för en ny period mitt under brinnande krig var festhumöret begränsat och middagen en enkel historia med kycklingsallad och paj för att markera allvaret och tidsandan.

That George W Bush is holding a lavish inauguration is criticised mainly because of the US involvement in Iraq. American soldiers die every day and more are due to be sent away on an unclear mission. When FDR was inaugurated for a new period in the middle of a raging war the party feelings were constrained and dinner was a simple story of chicken salad and pie to mark the seriousness and spirit of the times.

One wonders if any level of celebration during the inauguration would have been disrespectful to the "seriousness of the times", even though it is (1) a tradition and (2) was held even during the darkest hours of the second world war. It is something of an exercise in sophistry to compare the mass daily casualties of that war with, where thousands could die in a day, to those of the present. However, it is as usual taken straight from the Democratic play book:

Mr. Weiner and Rep. Jim McDermott, Washington Democrat, in a letter to President Bush said that a celebration during the war on terror is inappropriate and the money could be better spent, saying the funds could be used pay for 690 Humvees and a $290 bonus for each soldier serving in Iraq. "Precedent suggests that inaugural festivities should be muted — if not canceled — in wartime," said the letter, which cited President Roosevelt's scaled back inauguration in 1945 that had a menu of cold chicken salad and pound cake.

But without the attribution in this case of course. Need that appearance of impartiality and dogged research. Actually, where did this article come from? The next sentence is

Men historikerna påminner om att Lyndon Johnson inte lät sig nedslås av Vietnamkriget utan festade friskt 1965.

But historians remind us that Lyndon Johnson wasn't discouraged by the Vietnam war but celebrated briskly in 1965.

which compares to the Washington Times article:

President Johnson didn't eschew pageantry in 1965, racking up a $1.6 million bill for inaugural festivities despite the Vietnam War, historian Robert Dallek told Reuters.

In 1997, there was grumbling that the inauguration cost too much. But Clinton spokesman Barry Toiv said at the time, "It's really a symbol to the world and has been for over 200 years, and it's worth celebrating."

Oh, except that bit about Clinton isn't mentioned in the GP article... strange. But then, Clinton's wars were good I suppose.

Later in the piece:

Det finns inte heller någon plan som offentliggjorts för när och hur kriget i Irak skall avslutas.

There isn't either a publicised plan for when and how the war in Iraq will end.

No shit. Channelling John Kerry. Actually perhaps now it is of no use to him Kerry could reveal the secret plan he had for just this purpose prior to the elections. I thought the plan would be pretty clear in broad terms... elections, settling down the country, gradual withdrawal, etc etc. All contingent on what the other side does of course. I'm sure just after Pearl Harbour there wasn't a presidential plan to end the war either, apart maybe from crush the bastards.

The rest of the article goes on in a similar broad vein to insinuate that a middle eastern war was always the plan of the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfield crew even prior to Sept 11. Seymour Hersh is mentioned, but not to question any of it but to imply Bush has not denied the Iran accusations vigorously enough (well, duh). This is followed on by slightings of Condoleeza Rice, Alberto Gonzales and Carlos Gutierrez... not of course to mention that it is slightlty unprecedented to have a black woman, hispanic man and exiled Cuban in positions of such power but rather to flick them off as beholden to Bush or business (Gutierrez was the boss of a breakfast cereal company don't you know). Hmmm, and what would Kerry have been with his wife owning a good chunk of the corporate world?

Anyway, that was the first entry. Unfortunately this is the level of analysis in most papers round here, taking Reuters wire feeds and dressing them up as in-depth political coverage.

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